Iron is one of the most important nonorganic molecule for most forms of life. Almost all cells employ iron for fundamental activities such as energy metabolism and oxygen transport. The three main source of iron are the dietary absorption in the duodenum, the release of recycled iron from macrophages and the release of stored iron from hepatocytes (Kohgo et al., 2008). At the same time, iron excess is toxic due to its capacity to generate reactive oxygen species, underlining the importance of iron homeostasis. Iron balance in the human body is mainly regulated at the absorption step as there is no physiological mechanism for iron excretion. Four main proteins are regulating the iron balance: transferrin, ferritin, ferroportin and hepcidin (Wang and Pantopoulos, 2011). Within cells, iron is stored in cytoplasmic ferritin and can be used in period of high iron demand. Iron exits from cells via the iron exporter ferroportin, a transmembrane protein, and is transported into the bloodstream by transferrin. Hepcidin is able to inhibit iron entry into the plasma compartment by promoting the degradation of ferroportin (Nemeth et al., 2004). Disruptions in iron homeostasis are linked to numerous disorders, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and cancer.
Bioclinica Lab employs a colorimetric method performed in an automated platform for the measurement of iron in human serum.
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Nemeth, E., Tuttle, M.S., Powelson, J., Vaughn, M.B., Donovan, A., Ward, D.M., Ganz, T., and Kaplan, J. (2004). Hepcidin regulates cellular iron efflux by binding to ferroportin and inducing its internalization. Science 306, 2090–2093.
Wang, J., and Pantopoulos, K. (2011). Regulation of cellular iron metabolism. Biochem. J. 434, 365–381.